Sometimes the real world is so overwhelming it sneaks into sports. One of those times occurred after 9/11, when the crowd at Yankee Stadium sang “God Bless America.”
I’m not very religious, but it sounded right to me.
It seemed appropriate that that signature moment, when we needed to be together, occurred in our country’s most hallowed arena, the nation’s front porch.
We are probably the most sports-soaked culture in the world. We’re the ones who pay for the Olympics, after all – and I believe our code of conduct when we’re competing often represents our values at their best.
People like to say sports teaches us how to be aggressive.
But you can learn that through alley fighting. Any jerk with no regard for others can be aggressive. Prisons are filled with them. 9/11 was conceived by them.
The sophomore point guard had declared for the draft but could have returned to the Wolverines if he'd withdrawn by May 8. Instead, he'll forgo his remaining eligibility, meaning Michigan will have to replace one of its most important players as it tries to build on last season's impressive finish.
"There have been long discussions with my family, friends and my Michigan coaches," Morris said. "In the end I decided to go with my heart. Playing professional basketball has always been a dream for me. I feel this is the right time for me to pursue that goal. It will be hard to leave the University of Michigan. However, I truly believe the basketball program is moving in a very positive direction."
On Tuesday, the Michigan football family lost another beloved son, Jim Mandich, who died of cancer at age 62.
Regular readers of this space know I’ve had to write a few elegies already this year, and I’m not sure if we can bear another one right now.
I’m not sure Mandich would want any more, either, beyond his funeral.
As he told Angelique Chengalis of The Detroit News last fall, after he was diagnosed with cancer, “I said to myself, ‘No whining, no complaining, no bitching. You've lived a damned good life. You've got lot to be thankful for.’”
Jim Mandich was the captain of Bo Schembechler's 1969 squad that shocked Ohio State. He went on to star on the Miami Dolphins 1972 team that went undefeated. Mandich died last night after a long battle with bile duct cancer. He was 62.
U of M Director of Athletics Dave Brandon says Mandich was a Michigan Man "in every way."
"“Captain Jim Mandich led a team that changed Michigan football for decades to follow...He was a legendary player and an even better person. He will be missed."
The following is from U of M's press release announcing Mandich's death.
The NCAA sent Ohio State University's president a letter citing the "notice of allegations" against the school's football program.
In the letter to Ohio State, NCAA officials say, "Your institution should understand that all of the alleged violations set forth in the document attached to this letter are considered to be potential major violations of NCAA legislation, unless designated as secondary."
Amateur mixed martial arts fights may soon be regulated by the state. A bill introduced to the Michigan House would require both promoters and fighters to be licensed by the state. The bill would also create a commission to enforce the rules and investigate complaints.
Michigan State tight end Brian Linthicum was sentenced Tuesday to one year of probation in connection with a March 10 arrest in Aspen, Colo., according to Pitkin County Court records.
Linthicum, who will be a senior and possible starter in the fall, accepted a plea deal without appearing in court, knocking misdemeanor third-degree assault and eluding-police charges down to misdemeanor harassment.
He must take an anger-management class (at least eight hours), perform 40 hours of community service and pay $100, plus court costs. According to a court clerk, other conditions are that he cannot be arrested nor drink excessive amounts of alcohol. A review hearing for which Linthicum must be present is set for Oct. 11.
Max Bullough, a Michigan State linebacker, was also charged in the incident. His hearing is set for Tuesday.
The Associated Press reports a Los Angeles financier is the new owner of the NBA's Detroit Pistons.
Billionaire investor Tom Gores has agreed to buy the Detroit Pistons and other properties. The tentative deal announced Friday must be approved by the NBA. It includes the team, The Palace of Auburn Hills and DTE Energy Music Theatre. Gores is buying the properties from Karen Davidson, who became the owner after her husband, Bill, died in March 2009. Gores is the chairman and CEO of Platinum Equity.
If you’re not a Michigan football fan, you probably haven’t heard of Vada Murray, but you might have seen his picture.
It’s one of the iconic images of Michigan football, along with Tom Harmon standing in his mud-soaked, torn-apart jersey, Ol’ 98, and Desmond Howard diving to catch a touchdown against Notre Dame -- two Heisman Trophy winners, winning big games.
But the photo I’m talking about depicts Vada Murray and Tripp Welborne soaring skyward to block a field goal.
They were a kicker’s nightmare, but even when they got a hand on the ball, it simply denied their opponent three points -- not the kind of thing that wins you a Heisman Trophy or an NFL contract.
They don’t even keep records of blocked kicks.
But, over two decades later, something about that photo still resonates, perhaps because it captures their effort, their intensity, their passion – all of it spent just to give their teammates a slightly better chance for success.
The state’s Natural Resources Commission holds a discussion today on deer baiting. The commission is set to decide in June whether to lift the baiting ban in the Lower Peninsula. Wildlife biologists say feeding deer causes them to congregate unnaturally, and that it helps spread disease.
But Don Inman – a retired conservation officer – thinks some baiting is okay. He says large feed piles are a problem, but a small amount of bait is not.
"From my experience and all of my friends too who have hunted in this area and hunted when baiting was legal, we seldom saw more than four deer. We put out a coffee can and spread it around. "
The state banned deer baiting in the Lower Peninsula in 2008 after a deer in Kent County tested positive for chronic wasting disease.
Scoreboards at the University of Michigan’s premier sports venues are getting a major upgrade. The U of M Athletic Department announced today that it has signed a deal to replace the aging scoreboards at Michigan Stadium, Crisler Arena and Yost Ice Arena with state of the art LED displays.
In a written statement, UM Athletic Director David Brandon says the department is excited.
“Our goal is to set a new, higher standard for our fan’s viewing experience and the game day atmosphere we create in our venues. These boards will be an important first step in achieving that goal.”
Demolition of the old video boards at the Big House began in March. New, larger LED video screens will be installed in both end zones by this August.
The total cost of the project is expected to be less than $20 million dollars.
The Detroit Tigers started off their 2011 season on a cold, dreary day in New York. The disappointing day ended in a disappointing 6 to 3 loss to the Yankees.
The Associated Press report recounts the game's highlights:
Curtis Granderson hit a go-ahead homer leading off the seventh inning and Mark Teixeira had a three-run shot off Justin Verlander, lifting New York over the Detroit Tigers 6-3 Thursday in the first regular-season game played in the Bronx in March. CC Sabathia pitched six workmanlike innings, Derek Jeter added a sacrifice fly in the seventh using his new stride-less swing and Mariano Rivera, wearing his socks high for perhaps the first time, earned his first save and 560th of his career. Newcomers Russell Martin and Rafael Soriano did their part as the Yankees got off to a quick start on a gray, blustery, 42-degree day.
CBSSports.com is reporting that the final deal to sell the Detroit Pistons will be completed by the middle of April. The NBA franchise has been on the block since the death of longtime owner Bill Davidson. There have been many suitors, but it appears the winner is billionaire Tom Gores.
CBSSports senior writer Ken Berger says the sale could be made official in a few weeks.
Word in league circles is that negotiations to sell the Pistons to billionaire Tom Gores are far enough along to expect the matter to come to a vote by the Board of Governors April 14-15 in New York. League approval will be a welcome development for the organization, whose basketball operations department was paralyzed by the proposed sale. The Pistons are one of a handful of teams not to complete a single roster transaction this season.
One stumbling block that has slowed the sale of the Pistons is the question 'How much is the franchise actually worth?' Forbes recently reported the value of the franchise has dropped about 25%.
Brady Hoke signed a six year contract Monday, that could average out to $3.25 million a year. The Associated Press reports Hoke will be paid $2 million in the first year of the contract:
Hoke will be paid $2 million this year and his base salary will increase by $100,000 each season. Hoke will earn a $1.5 million "stay bonus" after his third year and another $1.5 million "stay bonus" if he is still leading college football's winningest program in the sixth season of his contract.
The Associated Press also quoted U of M Athletic Director Dave Brandon expressing confidence in Hoke.
"It's a big job with a lot of expectations and we feel very good about how much we're compensating him to help us reach those expectations."
Brady Hoke replaced Rich Rodriguez who lost the Wolverine head coaching job after three lackluster seasons and an NCAA investigation. Hoke was an assistant coach under Lloyd Carr before becoming a successful head coach at Ball State and San Diego State University.
Hoke issued this statement on his new contract:
The contract was handled by my agent and the University. My focus has been on the football program and will continue to be on making this program the best in America. I couldn’t tell you what’s in the contract other than my signature. The University offered Laura and I an opportunity to coach at Michigan and that’s been my dream. Nothing will change my focus.
The Michigan State University Athletic Department has cut ties with a booster club under investigation by the state lottery commission. WILX reported last night that state lottery officials have been investigating the Downtown Coaches Club. The Lansing TV station says questions have been raised by 50/50 raffles run by the club and how the money was distributed.
For several weeks, we have been aware that the Downtown Coaches Club had some financial reporting issues as well the review being conducted by the Michigan State Lottery Commission....At that time, the Michigan State Athletics Department immediately suspended all activities with the organization.
The Michigan Lottery Commission is not commenting on its investigation.
Five super-talented freshmen come to Michigan, and by mid-season the Wolverines become the first team in NCAA history to start all five freshmen. They get to the final game of March Madness before losing to defending national champion Duke. The next year, they make it to the finals again, but lose to North Carolina when their best player, Chris Webber, calls a time-out they don’t have.
Along the way they make baggy shorts and black socks fashionable, and import rap music and trash talk from the inner-city playground to the mainstream of college basketball.
Will the real next Spartan hockey coach please stand up?
After conflicting reports, it seems as if the job may go to CCHA commissioner Tom Anastos. From WILX-TV:
Former Spartan Tom Anastos will be announced as the next Spartan hockey coach at a 4 p.m. press conference at Munn Ice Arena. Anastos played for Ron Mason at Michigan State from 1981-85 scoring 60 goals and 143 points in his 4-year career.
Over the last 13 years he has served as the commissioner of the CCHA. He currently serves as the president of the Hockey Commissioner's Association. They created College Hockey Inc. which is responsible for growing the sport of college hockey.
Anastos was the head coach at the University of Michigan-Dearborn from 1987-1990. He was then as assistant to Mason at Michigan State from 1990-1992. The 46-year old will be just the 6th coach in Michigan State history.
Anastos emerged from a field of approximately twenty candidates, including Danton Cole, a former Waverly High School hockey star, who many believed was set to replace for MSU's hockey coach Rick Comley.
Comley guided the Spartans to a national championship in 2007, and is the fourth all-time winningest coach.
Last Friday, Jalen Rose defended some of the comments that he made in the documentary "The Fab Five." Rose claims that Duke did not and would not recruit players like him, and also addresses his use of the term "Uncle Tom," which Rose used in the documentary and which has been a source of ongoing controversy.
Here is Rose, talking about the things he said in the documentary:
"As a seventeen-year old recruit, that's exactly how I felt."
The Michigan Wolverines crushed the Tennessee Volunteers in their opening round game in the NCAA men's basketball tournament. The game was close at halftime. But U of M cruised in the second half to a 75-45 victory.
The Wolverines will play Sunday against the winner of the matchup between 16th seeded Hampton and top seeded Duke.
U of M is the only team with Michigan ties making to the second round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Michigan State lost it's first round game Thursday night. Oakland University lost a close game earlier this afternoon.
Oakland University's Golden Grizzlies kept it close. But, in the end, the Texas Longhorns prevailed. The 13th seeded Golden Grizzlies rallied throughout the first round tournament matchup with the 4th seeded Longhorns. However, Texas pulled away in the final minute to win 85 to 81.
As a kid on the South Side of Chicago who loved basketball, I got to see the best and the worst of college sports. I spent time on the court with inner-city players who had been used and dumped by their universities. When the ball stopped bouncing, they struggled to find work and had difficult lives. Some died early. The dividing line for success was between those who went to college and got their degrees, and those who did not. If a team fails to graduate even half of its players, how serious are the institution and coach about preparing their student-athletes for life?
Duncan wrote that 10 men's teams in the NCAA basketball tournament are not on track to graduate more than half their players.
On Monday I drove a couple hours to see a high school basketball game in Vicksburg, Michigan – about 20 minutes south of Kalamazoo. The Class C regional semi-final pitted Schoolcraft against Fennville. Both schools were undefeated – but that wasn’t why I was going.
Two weeks ago Fennville lost its star center, Wes Leonard, just minutes after the last regular season contest. Leonard had made the game winning shot, and the Fennville fans rushed the court and hoisted their hero onto their shoulders.
Then, just seconds later, the truly unthinkable happened: Wes Leonard’s enlarged heart gave out, and he collapsed, right on the court. Before midnight, the town pastor emerged from the hospital to tell the crowd Wes Leonard had died.
The Michigan State Spartans tip off their 2011 NCAA Men’s basketball tourney tonight in Tampa against the UCLA Bruins. The tenth seeded Spartans stumbled into the tourney compiling a 19 win-14 loss season. The seventh seeded Bruins posted a slightly better 22 and 10 record.